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WFP To Cut $3B From Programs Because of Budget Shortfall, Executive Director Says

Low donation levels are causing the World Food Programme (WFP) to fall short of feeding the most critically hungry people in the world, and the agency “has so far received only $1.8 billion and has had to cut back rations and programs to the 108 million people it serves, said Josette Sheeran,” WFP’s executive director, Reuters reports (Rampton, 7/29).

On Wednesday, Sheeran said the agency’s 2009 budget of “assessed, approved needs” is $6.7 billion, but the agency “now expects, after consultations with governments, donations of $3.7 billion,” AFP/Google.com writes. According to Sheeran, WFP is “actively cutting” $3 billion from the program, “which means a reduction in rations and programs throughout the world.” AFP/Google.com writes that she “did not provide specific details on the cutbacks and their timetable.”

“For the WFP, we are facing a dangerous and unprecedented shortfall in emergency funding. This is mainly due to the fact that the needs which were greatly increased last year due to the food crisis have not come down, in fact have increased, just as we’re seeing the numbers of hungry increase,” she said (Smith, 7/29).

NPR reports: “Sheeran, a former Bush administration official, praises the Obama administration for its focus on food security issues around the globe. And she says the U.S. is making it easier for the WFP in places like Pakistan, by giving some of the donations now in cash, rather than only in-kind. That allows the group to buy on local markets, which it is trying to do everywhere.” Sheeran says that the U.S. is considering giving more of it’s food aid in cash, “something she is encouraging on her latest trip to Washington” (Keleman, 7/29).

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